Laura Crawshaw's Answer:
Linda, you describe a situation fraught with distress and confusion. Let's address the confusion first. It's not clear from your letter on what basis you were removed from your job after you went on stress leave, why the company has reversed its position, or your company's current stance on your future employment.
Instead of communicating separately with your boss, HR, or Medical, I recommend that you ask to meet with all parties at the same time to get definitive answers to these questions. Doing so serves two purposes: you'll find out exactly what you're up against and thus be better equipped to develop a viable response strategy.
Stay calm and civil in this meeting – you want to be perceived as a reasonable individual committed to doing a good job, and not get written off as a "difficult employee" – the undeserved fate of so many victims of bullying.
If the powers that be express concerns related to your work performance, ask them to provide you with a list of their specific expectations for acceptable performance. Asking for these will give you a clear sense of how you are being measured, and in meeting these expectations, it will make it more difficult for your supervisor to declare you incompetent.
At the conclusion of the meeting, you might consider stating that you are open to any feedback regarding your work performance, but ask that these concerns be conveyed in a civil manner. "If you have an issue, please calmly inform me and I will do my best to correct it".
Alluding to your boss's past aggression is admittedly risky, but it makes it clear that you are not willing to tolerate your supervisor's unacceptable behaviors.
This brings us to the distress of working for a bullying boss. From my years of coaching and researching what I term abrasive bosses (bosses who rub coworkers the wrong way, leaving deep wounds), I've learned that most bullied employees see only three options: tolerate, transfer, or terminate. I've also encountered employees who successfully tamed their managers by calmly and respectfully informing their boss that they would no longer tolerate the bullying behavior: "I need to let you know that shouting at me doesn't work for me – if there's a problem, just tell me and I'll address it immediately."
This strategy also entails risk, but is worth trying if you're already contemplating leaving. I've found that more often than not, abrasive bosses are blind to their own behavior – they have no idea of how they're coming across.
Another option is to convince your company to set limits on the bullying boss. Complaints of bullying behavior are frequently discounted as a personality conflict with a single disgruntled employee. But there's safety and strength in numbers - it's harder for companies to dismiss reports of bullying when multiple employees voice their concerns, and it's less risky to present the distress en masse.
Participants should calmly communicate their concern for fellow employees and the company as a whole, while presenting specific descriptions of the bullying behaviors. Companies who become aware of an abrasive manager also have options beyond tolerating, transferring, or terminating the offender.
Demanding respectful behavior from supervisors and offering executive coaching to help them gain insight into their dysfunctional management styles can often resolve the problem.